Rogart Drove Road
Start location: Unclassified road off A839 (NN 666 037)
End location: Invershin Hotel (NN 580 953)
Geographical area: Sutherland
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 13.2km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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There is no path at all to follow for the vast majority of this route and you mostly have to walk over the heather moors. However, it's not too difficult for the fit but you are unlikely to meet anyone at all on the way and so good navigation skills are essential.
This survey goes from north to south as the drovers would done so start at Acheilidh at 666 037 and head directly south along the track to Bad Leathan. The track soon disappears after Bad Leathan and the direction to head is south going betwwen Loch na Saobhaidhe and the small hill to its north east. There is some evidence of cattle droves on the shoulder of this hill where there are multiple small terraces and cuts in the hill side. Then turn south east towards the southern slope of Meall Meadhonach before crossing the Allt Lochan na Gaoithe and assending Meall na Tulchainn. This hill is very flat on the top and can be quite boggy so it may be better to contour round the northern or southern slope. If you go straight off the west of the hill you should drop straight onto the old Broch, Dun-garbh-airigh and the ruined cottage built from its stone. At this point you should notice a massive boulder to the south west that marks the corner of the old township just south of Garvary. The Allt Garbh-Airidh would be quite difficult to cross if there were not a very narrow wooden plank crossing it a little downstream, the bridge took this 11 stone surveyor fine but it is not for those with vertigo or poor balance. Now you can join the track and head south before taking the fork north west. You then head south west for Clais na Faire, the very big boulder at the meeting of the Allt Clais na Faire and the Allt Loch Leisgein. Cross the burn and head up the hill and countour to the south west till you get to the cleared township of Coirshellach and from here you can easily follow Henman's Burn to the drovers' stance of Monbuie. Then you follow the fence line to another cleared township of Shean. From here it would have been a very short walk along a road to Invershin but this route is now well overgrown and so the only other option is to head into the nearby Forestry Commission plantation where a nearby track will take you direct to the main road only a couple of hundred metres from Invershin Hotel where a well deserved drink awaits.
OS Landranger sheet 16 (Lairg & Loch Shin) & sheet 21 (Dornoch, Alness & Invergordan area)
This is a very little known drove road that Haldane did not mention in his seminal book, The Drove Roads of Scotland.
There was a documented drove along this route in 1739 by a 17 year old John Macdonald and his cousin William Macdonald, John's droving career was cut short as he took the 'King's Shilling' the night after he reached Invershin. During their drove the men would have passed Monbuie, which is about 2km north east of Invershin Hotel and was a Drovers' Stance where drovers, and their cattle, would have rested and stayed the night before continuing on their journey. Monbuie is made up of the remains of a large longhouse (presumably housing the stance owner), outside of a very large boundary wall (housing the travelling cattle overnight) and inside the boundary wall are the remains of a smaller structure (probably for housing the drovers). Nearby are the remains of a dam to ensure water is available for visiting cattle. It is also known that there was a ferry at Invershin, which was then known as Portnaleck that took cattle.
We can threrefore say that cattle were coming this way and stopping at Monbuie before being ferried over the Kyle of Sutherland. We can be less certain of the exact route but the suggested route is locally thought to have been the historic route and it does avoid the worst of the bog. In addition there are places where it seems you can see traces of the movement of cattle such as the south west shoulder of the hill west of Creagan Glass where there are numerous cuts and terraces, surely a sign of a lot of traffic.
We can also be pretty certain that the route fell out of use almost exactly two hundred years ago as the heavily populated area was forcibly cleared between 1810 and 1820 and Bonar Bridge was built in 1813, rerouting the cattle traffic. The instant removal of the populace is likely the reason it is so hard to trace now as not only did cattle stop using it but people did as well.
There must have been many thousands of cattle travelling this at one time, which has gone largely undocumented and it is just local knowledge that remembers its importance today.